Magnesium is probably the nutrient that is being supplemented the most nowdays. Why is that? Because magnesium is involved in everything!!!
And unfortunately an estimated 80% of us are actually deficient. And this is one deficit our body can’t afford. Let’s dive into the energy nutrient, mangnesium.
What does magnesium do?
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is a co-factor in 700-800 different enzymatic reactions in the body. It plays a role in regulating many biochemical processes including protein synthesis, nerve and muscle function, blood sugar control and blood pressure regulation. It’s also the reason why magnesium is implicated in many different symptoms and dozens of health condition.
- The anti-inflammatory benefits of magnesium help to reduce the chronic low grade inflammation that is the underlying cause of most if not all disease today. Furthermore magnesium deficiency is linked to chronic inflammation.
- Magnesium activates Vitamin D. Without magnesium Vitamin D is not really useful. Magnesium is needed to help in the metabolism and activation of Vitamin D so that it can be used by the body.⠀
- Magnesium plays a role in most of our our bodily processes! About 40% of all magnesium in our body exists within our cells, while 60% is in our teeth and bones, and only less than 1% circulates in our blood.⠀
- Increased energy: Magnesium activates the main source of cellular energy, giving you energy and motivation.⠀⠀
- Good sleep: This mineral has a remarkable ability to calm and relax the body and mind. It also associated with increases in sleep inducing melatonin and decreases in sleep busting cortisol so that you can sleep better.⠀
- Regularity: Magnesium will help you to stay regular when it comes to bowel movements. Getting enough of this mineral can help keep things moving so you feel your best.⠀
- Relaxed muscles: We are overloaded on calcium intake and so our muscles feel the strain. Getting enough magnesium into the system helps keep your muscles nice and loosey goosey!⠀⠀
- Healthy blood sugar levels: When we have adequate magnesium we also have healthy glucose and insulin metabolism. Low levels of magnesium are associated with metabolic dysfunction and insulin resistance.⠀
- Calm mood: Stress leads to increased magnesium depletion but magnesium deficiency often leads to more stress and anxious feelings. Magnesium helps to lower cortisol and binds and activates GABA which is essential for feeling calm.⠀⠀
- Magnesium is essential for the production of thyroid hormone as well as it helps to convert the less active T4 thyroid hormone to the more active T3. It’s also anti-inflammatory which helps to quiet the autoimmune inflammation that underlies most thyroid disease.⠀
- Magnesium plays a key role in DNA repair. Magnesium is a cofactor in literally hundreds of enzymatic reactions including those involved in DNA metabolism, replication, repair and protection of DNA from oxidative damage!
Magnesium deficiency can result in numerous issues that include headaches, dizziness, confusion, muscle aches & pain, cardiac arrhythmias, GI disturbances, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tingling of hands, numbness, anxiety, nervousness!
- Soils :Magnesium has been farmed out of our soils without being replaced so there is less magnesium now found in our foods due to modern farming practices, getting enough magnesium from our diet alone can be difficult.⠀
- Sugar : For every molecule of sugar , it takes 54 molecules of magensium for your body to process it! It’s time to ditch the sugar!⠀
- Stress: Excess sympathetic activity will reduce stomach acid and we end up with poor absorption⠀⠀
- Anti-nutrients such as tannins and phytic acid (seeds, grains and legumes) in food bind to magnesium, preventing its absorption.⠀
- Poor absorption due to being celiac, inflammation, and low stomach acid
- Calcium depletes magnesium in the body and most of us get too much calcium. It’s important to remember we need adequate amounts of magnesium to properly absorb, metabolize and distribute calcium.⠀
- Poor diet. Processed foods don’t contain much magnesium⠀⠀⠀
- Little consumption of magnesium rich foods.
- Medications. Magnesium depleting drugs include PPIs (acid blockers), Diuretics, ACE inhibitors, Antibiotics and Chemotherapy
- Fluoridated water; this is a big one as fluoride binds to magnesium reducing absorption
- Magnesium levels will also be decreased by excess alcohol, coffee, salt and profuse sweating⠀⠀
How do we get enough magnesium?
The RDA is pretty clear and well researched. The RDA for adult men is 400 milligrams per day (mg/d) and for adult women it is 310 mg/d. As with most vitamins and minerals, the RDA is making sure to have a stable level but perhaps more magnesium has benefecial effects.
⠀Considering the KetOntrack approach to health the below foods are the best magnesium rich foods.
- Leafy greens (kale, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens) are loaded with magnesium. Plus these greens help protect your cells from damage.⠀⠀
- Seeds (pumpkin, flax and chia) contain high amounts of magnesium. Plus they’re high in fibre!⠀⠀
- Avocados are a tasty source of magnesium with 1 medium one providing 58mg of magnesium. Plus they have heart-healthy fats, are high in fibre and help to fight inflammation!⠀⠀
- Dark chocolate (85% or more). 1 ounce of chocolate provides 64mg of magnesium. Plus its loaded with beneficial antioxidants.⠀⠀
- Nuts (almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts) are particularly high in magnesium and they’re a great source of fibre and help fight inflammation! ⠀
- Fatty Fish (salmon, mackerel, and halibut) provide a great source of magnesium, are a great source of protein and have high amounts of Omega 3 Essential Fatty acids!
If you are interested in specific guidelines here are some!
- 100 grams of seaweeds will give your the reccomented amount.
- 100 grams of pumpkin or squash seeds.
- 100 grams of rice.
- 200 grams of peanuts, peanut butter, sesame seeds and sesame products (Tahini), flax, chia seeds, almonds.
- 400 grams of cod, salmon
- 400 grams of various beans and nuts: fava, white, kidney, walnuts, macademia
- Going further down the nutritional density we find cheese, spinash, beet greens, chickpeas, lentils, beef and most vegetables.
- It is quite important to mention about spices. The more spices you use the more magnesium they will add to your diet.
Other options are
- Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, soybeans) are rich in magnesium and can be a major source of protein for vegetarians/vegans.⠀⠀
- Bananas are known for their potassium content but they’re also a great source of magnesium. Ripe bananas are higher in sugar so may not be suitable for people with diabetes.⠀⠀
- Grains (buckwheat and quinoa) are excellent sources of magnesium & have been shown to reduce inflammation! Better yet, they’re gluten free!⠀⠀
- Tofu is also a magnesium rich food & also known as a phytoestrogen. Furthermore, its a great protein source for vegetarians/vegans.
During magnesium deficiency the body will pull Magnesium from bone and muscle to maintain normal blood levels. Even though magnesium might be at the normal range in the blood, there can be a significant depletion. It is quite important to keep replenishing magnesium and that is why so many people reach out to supplements to cover their magnesium needs.
- Assessing magnesium levels is difficult because most magnesium is inside cells or bones. The most commonly used method for assessing magnesium status is measurement of serum magnesium concentration.
- Magnesium deficiency is uncommon because the kidneys limit excretion of this mineral. However, low intakes for a prongled periods of time, chronic alcoholism, can lead to deficiency.
- Sugar depletes the body of B6, responsible for magnesium absorption.
- Our food supply is lower in magnesium due to refinement and soil depletion so our daily intake is a lot higher than the RDA.
There are many magnesium supplements and I would suggest using epsom salth baths. I have personally used them with quite good effects especially as a relaxation mechanism before sleep. Most popular format is citrate, but the best form is probably L-Threonate.
- Due to magnesium’s vital intracellular work, it becomes a crucial mineral to our overall physical and emotional health and well being. Actually, there’s hardly an organ or system that does not rely on magnesium to function optimally.⠀
- Magnesium is needed to support protein synthesis and energy use, which in turn supports everything in the body.
- It helps keeping energy levels-up and be relaxed.
- It prevents muscle tension, cramping, and irregular heartbeats.
- It supports calcium with buiding healthy bones and teeth.
- The best sources are nuts and seeds.
- When suppleementing take magnesium with calcium together.